Growing resentment against extended unscheduled power cuts spilled onto the streets Monday with people staging massive protests across Kashmir against the Power Development Department (PDD) for plunging the entire Valley into darkness. Even as protests were held across north and south Kashmir against the unjustified power cuts, PDD predicted no immediate relief for consumers.
People in many areas of South Kashmir came out on streets and blocked roads, against the erratic power supply.
Reports said people came out in large numbers in Kulgam, Shopian and Pulwama districts of the South Kashmir and held protests against PDD for unscheduled power cuts.
In Kulgam district, people staged protests in large numbers at the district headquarters besides Sandoo, Khudwani and Qaimoh and staged anti-government and anti-PDD demonstrations.
The protesters, reports said, also blocked vital road links for several hours bringing the traffic to halt. “Thousands of vehicles remained stranded on some vital roads including Wanpoh-Kulgam road for at least eight hours as people blocked the link at several places by erecting barricades and holding sit-in demonstrations,” witnesses said.
The roads, reports said, were blocked by people also at Khudwani, Kanipora and Sundu areas. People blocked the road at 9 AM this morning and the blockade continued till 5PM in the evening causing tremendous inconvenience to the commuters.
Though, district administration tried hard to convince people to call off the protests but people remained defiant.
Protests were also witnessed in many villages of Shopian district including Shirmal, Nagbal, Hirpora, Imam Sahab, Trenzu, Kellar, Habdipora, Bashqushan and Malikgund.
Report said that traffic was halted for about four hours in these areas and it was resumed only after the intervention of district administration.
The people besides frequent power cuts were also protesting against PDD for overcharging the customers. “We held protest demonstrations few days back too but the authorities assured us that the power supply will be restored soon and we called off the protests,” the villagers alleged.
They said that, however, after the assurance of the administration the power supply in their areas has worsened and few of the villages are completely reeling under darkness.
Meanwhile, similar protests were also held in many parts of Pulwama district, including Awantipora and Tral areas. The people accused the PDD of overcharging them while virtually plunging the area into complete darkness.
“Our children are not able to study properly due to absence of electricity,” the residents said.
In north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, hundreds of people including children and women staged protest demonstrations this morning at Hayan, Trehgam against “indifference” of PDD.
Shouting anti-government slogans, protesters blocked Kupwara-Kralpora road for more than four hours, disrupting normal life in the area.
Locals alleged that PDD is unnecessarily delaying repair of transformers located in their locality, which had developed snag few weeks ago.
In north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, people also took to streets at several places to register their protest against unscheduled power cuts.
According to reports, scores of people took to streets at Bomai Sopore against faulty transformer the frequent breakdowns of which plunges the area in darkness frequently.
Chanting anti-government and anti-PDD slogans, protesters blocked Sopore-Bomai road for more than one hour. Later officials of PDD reached on the spot and assured the protesters that they would redress their grievances, prompting them to disperse peacefully.
Meanwhile, residents of Muqam-e-Shahwali, Kupwara are up in arms against the PDD. They allege that PDD has failed to repair a transformer which developed technical snag one month back.
Hundreds of residents of this frontier village on Monday staged massive anti-PDD protest. “The transformer in our area developed technical snag some one month back and till date it has not been repaired,” the protesters claimed.
When contacted, chief engineer PDD Muhammad Muzaffar Mattoo said the distress load-shedding would persist in both metered and unmetered pockets till procurement of further power from the Northeren Grid.
“We are on the job of purchasing power to meet the requirements and it will take few more days to complete formalities for the same,” he said.
Mattoo said at present Valley is facing shortage of 200-300 MW of energy.
“At present there is supply of 700-800 MW while as original requirement is around 1000 MW at peak time,” he said.
WE’LL BE SELF-SUFFICIENT BY 2020: NASIR
Meanwhile, asserting that the government was committed to improve the power scenario in the state, Provincial President of National Conference, Nasir Aslam Wani Monday said J&K would be self-sufficient in power by 2020.
“The opposition is trying to give the impression that there is a power shortage in the state as they have always thrived on the politics of propaganda and lies,” Wani said while addressing a public gathering in Wanpoh village of this South Kashmir district.
Wani said the state government lead by Omar Abdullah was committed to improve the power scenario in the state and eight new power projects have already been sanctioned.
“We are committed to achieve the target of being self-sufficient in power generation by the year 2020,” Wani said.